Bruins seek fifth straight district title

Avery Jennings eyes down the pitcher.
photo by : Ann fitzmaurice

Avery Jennings eyes down the pitcher. photo by : Ann fitzmaurice

andrew whitaker

Under Head Coach Justin Towe, in recent years the Bruin baseball team has experienced success. They won four consecutive district titles and are seeking their fifth in 2016. A fifth consecutive victory, however, will not be an easy task.
The Bruins, who play in Class District nine, are stuck in perhaps the most competitive district in the state. In the most recent rankings released by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association (MHSBCA), three teams in District nine were in the top 10, including the Bruins, who boasted a second place ranking .
The competitive nature of the district has been a result of an equally competitive regular season. The Bruins were 8-2 in the first 10 games, which featured five games in the competitive Rawlings Select Classic.
Despite winning their next eight games, RBHS was hit with adversity as senior shortstop Curtis Holliday went down with an injury. As a result, underclassmen such as junior Jordan Smith and sophomore Trevor Twehous were forced to fill into larger roles.
The Bruins hit a rough patch in the season following the winning streak. Losing three of four games, including a defeated district rival, the Smith-Cotton Tigers, the Bruins were 17-5 on the season.
Eleven days later, however, the Tigers would lose to the Jefferson City Jays, 7-1. The Bruins would then defeat the Jays, 6-3, on senior night as the game ended on a double play started by Twehous. RBHS then blew out Hickman, 11-0, the following day. As a result of the two impressive victories, the Bruins had locked up the first seed.
“It’s always fun playing a cross town rival,” senior Brandon Goins said. “That night just felt good knowing it was my last chance to throw against them ,but it was even better to shut them out.”
On top of the district victories, RBHS’ regular season campaign featured two wins against Francis Howell and wins against Blue Springs and Christian Brothers College (CBC). Riding a 25-7 record into district play, the Bruins endured a difficult final stretch to achieve not just the top-seed in the district but also the claim of being the second best team in the state.
“It’s good to get down to the last two weeks of the season and play two of the top teams in our district,” Towe said. “We have one of, if not the toughest schedules in the state and [It was difficult] having to play Staley and Blue Springs in one of our last weekend series, plus the two district worthy games the following week.”
With the top seed, the Bruins receive a first-round bye and will play the winner of fourth-seeded Hickman (18-9) and fifth-seeded Camdenton (8-16).
Third-seeded Smith-Cotton (23-4), ranked eighth in the state, plays last-seeded Battle (13-10). Jefferson City (21-6), ranked fifth in the state, also receives a bye in the first round.
“This year we really had to work for that number one seed,” senior Taten Lyngstad said. “Our districts not easy this year, and the tournament will definitely be a difficult challenge.”
Despite the competitive district tournament that awaits the team, the Bruins look to carry the momentum from a successful season into the tournament.
“We have played well and as a team all season, and that has allowed us to reach our goals,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we will be able to continue our success during the postseason”